Buster Keaton

Buster Keaton:

Tempest in a Flat Hat

This biography celebrates one of cinema’s greatest clowns, painting a detailed portrait of the man behind the mayhem and offering a fresh look at the classic comedies that defined the Golden Age of silent film. McPherson takes the reader on a fascinating journey through Buster Keaton’s life and times, from the vaudeville stage to the glittering screens of early Hollywood, where he rivaled Charlie Chaplin as the master of silent comedy. The biography reveals Keaton in his prime as an antic genius—equal parts auteur, innovator, prankster, and daredevil.

“A lighthearted and captivating romp through Hollywood’s golden age… [McPherson] captures Keaton’s antic, madcap energy.”—The New York Times Book Review

“In this spiffy new biography, Edward McPherson is especially good at describing the ingenuity at the heart of Keaton’s career... Keaton’s glory is his work of the late teens and the ’20s, which McPherson evokes with insight and enthusiasm.”—The Washington Post Book World

“One of Hollywood’s funniest filmmakers—that’s the Buster Keaton we remember today, and McPherson nicely reminds us of how he got that way.”—The Wall Street Journal

“An appreciative biography that rolls as smoothly as a film reel... McPherson deftly pulls from the ashes the life, work, and times of Buster Keaton, [and] depicts a man worth remembering.”—The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH)

“[A] loving tribute... McPherson pays homage to Keaton’s two-reelers and full-length movies by detailing the iconic filmmaker’s plot lines and notable sight gags... His contribution is to adroitly describe the extraordinary visual lunacy Keaton produced on screen to achieve cinema art.”—Publishers Weekly

“Keaton is revived from time to time, and another revival is overdue. McPherson's biography—written by an avowed fan—is humane and sympathetic and deserves to lead the way.”The Times (London)

“McPherson is right on the money throughout this admirably brief book... there is no gainsaying the vigour in McPherson's analyses of Keaton's art.”Sunday Times (London)

“The early chapters—written in poetically terse and lively prose—offer a teasing glimpse of a ferociously harsh and vivacious theatre world, seething with eccentrics ... [McPherson’s] enthusiasm for his subject is undoubtedly contagious… The author, rather like his subject, has the knack of sketching a poignant moment using the minimum of sentimental flannel.”Sunday Telegraph (London)

“Animated by the same sort of colour and vitality as Buster's best work ... [McPherson] does a thing that many have avoided, and others have failed to do: relay Keaton's funny business with the craft of a practiced gag-merchant. [A] graceful and charming book.”The Scotsman

“Capturing all the excitement and bravura of an exhilarating era, Edward McPherson's effervescent biography manages to be both erudite and hugely enjoyable, one of those books that could make a convert of the most indifferent reader, so engrossing is the story depicted. With the same zest that infused the early Keaton films, McPherson has produced a witty and well-balanced tribute to a remarkable entertainer.”—Kirkus (UK)

“The author's infectious enthusiasm… succeeds in evoking the distinctive pleasure afforded by Keaton's films.”The Times Literary Supplement

“Edward McPherson's elegant and affectionate new biography takes you on a delightful ride through the ups and downs of Keaton's fascinating life.  Each film is lovingly examined with a precision and dry wit that Old Stoneface himself would admire.”—Jim Taylor

"Buster Keaton is arguably the best actor-director in the history of the movies, and certainly the bravest. McPherson charts the progress of a life in which art was built out of early experience, insatiable curiosity, an instinctive affinity for the new medium, flawless comic timing, physical courage, and a sense of humor that still seems ahead of its time."—Roger Ebert

"Buster Keaton is a delight: a tour of Keaton's life and art that's witty and incisive, as well as both properly awestruck by his talent and irreverent with the usual pieties... It's all here: the exhilaration and sadness of his life; the achievement and hilarity of his work."—Jim Shepard